WILCO jailers ask for higher pay

Working in the Williamson County Jail is no easy job. Roxanne Bailey made that clear to county commissioners Tuesday morning.

"No one in law enforcement, goes into the career trying to make money'" said Bailey.

Bailey and others,  who came to hear the budget discussed, also made it clear the job in the jail simply doesn't pay enough.

"One 4% raise for you guys, based on your current rate of pay, it takes them five years to get that amount of money," said Traci Macik.

Starting pay for a Williamson County corrections officer is $32,775. The maximum pay is capped after 18 years and reaches just over $49,000. Only four employees currently make that salary.

"And why would somebody come to work here when they can make more money at taco bell," asked Noel Johnson with the TMPA a statewide law enforcement organization.

A survey of Texas jails noted that Webb County starts it's corrections officers at $42,000 a year, the most in the report. The lowest pay is in bell county at $29,000. When compared to surrounding counties, Williamson County jailers make less than those in Travis, Burnet, and Bastrop counties. Its a gap commissioners were warned, that contributes to a high turnover rate.

"This year I've trained five people, and out of those five, only two remain, and one of them is currently in talks with other agencies as we speak," said Ross Cassey.

Commissioners were already looking at giving Corrections officers a pay raise, the proposals range between  2% to 3%. The jailers want a 10% increase  which could have a budget impact around $2 million. County Judge Dan Gattis said it appears the commissioners are willing to talk, but are only willing to go so far.

" I apologize for my country way of saying, it ain't going to happen, you're never going to throw all that money in there."

A 2% pay hike would increase the current hourly wage of $15.76  by 31-cents. 3% increases the rate to $16.23 an hour. Both options limits the budget hit to under $200,000. That would leave more than enough enough money for commissioners to spend on  things like road improvements and buying down debt.  

"Yes they can co-exist but we have to be fair to both of them," said Judge Gattis.

While a compromise is possible, there's not much time to make a deal, a final vote on the budget is expected by the end of the month.